Pioneering photos

Pioneering photos

Snapshots by photographer Walter Rosenblum can be seen at Rosphoto.

Published: August 29, 2012 (Issue # 1724)


Iconic images captured by Rosenblum and
now on show at Rosphoto include ‘Boy on
the Roof,’ top left, ‘Girl on a Swing,’ bottom
left, both taken on Pitt Street in 1938, and
‘Children on the Staircase,’ above, taken in
Toulouse, France in 1946.

A traveling exhibit of photos by the American documentary photography pioneer Walter Rosenblum opened at the city’s Rosphoto exhibition hall Friday.

Titled “Message from the Heart — Walter Rosenblum,” the exhibit is the largest collection of the legendary photographer’s work yet to be shown in Russia.

Rosenblum (1919-2006) was one of the first photographers to consider photography a form of art comparable to Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Goya paintings. His iconic images, which have been exhibited in the U.S., Brazil, Germany, Haiti, Italy and Spain, are the best argument for his assertion.


The artist’s style was influenced by his compatriots Paul Strand, pioneer of modernism in photography, and Lewis Hine, who documented the lives of immigrants and workers. Rosenblum’s works are similarly marked by expressive form and social content. He spent a lot of time studying both the people he photographed and the environment in which they lived. Often the heroes of his shots faced difficult living conditions, but Rosenblum’s sincere admiration and respect for them brought a sense of optimism to a cruel world.

The exhibit taking place at Rosphoto covers all the periods of the photographer’s life and career through a variety of images divided into chapters including “Pitt Street” (1938) dedicated to the street where the photographer grew up, “War” (1944), featuring pictures taken by Rosenblum as a war correspondent, documentary representations of deprived neighborhoods such as “South Bronx” (1980) and many other series of images.

The “Message from the Heart” exhibit is curated by well-known figures in the world of photography and cinema: Photography historian Naomi Rosenblum and documentary film producer Nina Rosenblum (the wife and daughter of the photographer) along with Andrei Martynov, who helped to bring the exhibition to Russia.


“I have been familiar with Walter Rosenblum’s works for a long time,” said Martynov.

“I have even included them in other exhibits, for example, ‘New York Then and Now.’ I visited San Leo [a small town in Italy] by chance two years ago, and there I was introduced to his widow Naomi Rosenblum and her daughters. The idea of bringing the exhibit to Russia was born right there and then. Naomi agreed to my proposal immediately and she thought of the exhibition title [‘Message from the Heart’] referring to the fact that the Rosenblum family have Russian roots, but their ancestors left for America long ago.”

The exhibition is accompanied by screenings of the film “Walter Rosenblum: In Search of Pitt Street” by Nina Rosenblum. She has twice been nominated for an Oscar in the documentary film producer category.

“Message from the Heart — Walter Rosenblum” runs through Sept. 14 at Rosphoto, 35 Bolshaya Morskaya Ulitsa. Tel. 314 1214. M. Admiralteiskaya.

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